Convincing yourself to write can sometimes feel like the most difficult thing in the world. Suddenly you’ll find anything—even cleaning your bathroom—more appealing than sitting down and working on that novel. Even when you want to make time for writing, don’t you feel like finding the time, even ten minutes for yourself, always proves more tricky than anticipated? Holding yourself accountable is a great way to meet your deadlines and ensure that you’re writing even on days when it seems difficult—or even impossible. This article will lay out some compelling reasons why you need accountability. If you’re like us, you’ll agree that if anyone needs an accountability plan, it’s us writers! Having a plan to help you stay accountable will help you finish that novel in no time, instead of having no time to finish that novel.
Accountability can help you differentiate between work time and free time.
Working from home means that the lines between when working hours and free hours are often blurry. Handling this “really quickly” or fitting in just one more e-mail can feel lilke you’re being productive when in fact finding one more thing to do even when you should not be working just dilutes your effectiveness when you are working. Holding yourself accountable helps build structure between writing time and non-writing time, helping to set the two apart. If you hold yourself accountable to writing for fifteen minutes a day, for a half an hour, or even an hour a day, you’re ensuring that precious time is dedicated entirely to that task and nothing else. Setting aside specific amounts of time when you’ll only write can improve your productivity and relieve the stress that nags at us when we know we’re avoiding something we want or need to do.
Accountability keeps you on track to reach your goals.
Setting goals is an incredibly important part of writing, especially considering that most writing is deadline-based. Whether you’re aiming to have a chapter finished by a certain date or have a strict deadline for a manuscript, holding yourself accountable is essential for meeting these deadlines and hitting your goals. Without accountability, planning out when you’re going to get your writing done, how you’re going to manage all the different deadlines, and how to keep working, even when you don’t feel like it, can be incredibly stressful and can take up precious energy you could put into the writing itself. Practicing accountability with the purpose of reaching your goals is a great way to keep yourself on track and meet those deadlines.
Using accountability can create a positive writing habit that sticks.
Creating a habit (especially a good one) can prove trickier than we’d like. Writing daily, or at least regularly, is a common goal, but finding the time every day to sit down and write is never as easy as it sounds. Accountability is a great way to force yourself to write regularly and start creating the habit. Once you’re holding yourself to a set time to sit down and write every day you’ll get used to blocking out a few hours a week to write, and it will eventually become a habit and routine. Before you know it, you’ll find yourself ready to write when you sit down at the schedule time, for the scheduled amount of time, without it feeling forced or unnatural.
We’ll be the first to admit it, we tend to procrastinate sometimes, especially when it comes to writing. When there’s a big deadline looming over you, or pages and pages you know need to write or revise, suddenly anything sounds more appealing than sitting down to work on your words. Accountability helps with procrastination in the same way any scheduled meeting does: it can’t be missed. Blocking off time in your calendar or planner to write is one thing, but treating it as though it’s a real, scheduled, can’t-miss event is the important part. When you use accountability to hold yourself to your writing and work on it a little each day, you’ll find those deadlines don’t seem as scary as before.
Accountability can improve the quality of your writing.
This may sound like a stretch, but it’s been said time and time again by numerous famous and successful authors: the best way to improve your writing is to do it every day. Holding yourself accountable and writing daily, or at least on a very regular schedule, is one of the most important ways you can improve your writing. It all starts with showing up for yourself each day and treating your writing schedule as a real commitment. Grab your coffee, get yourself situated, and dedicate time on a very regular schedule to working on your writing. It doesn’t always have to be your best work, but getting some words out is always better than no writing at all. Before you know it, the process will come more easily and your words will be flowing from your brain to the page effortlessly.
Though it can seem like a small thing, accountability is an essential part of the writing process. If you are passionate and serious about your writing, treating it like a real scheduled activity instead of a hobby is a key aspect of improving your craft and meeting your deadlines. If you struggle to sit down and write regularly, holding yourself accountable is a great way to create the habit. Make a note in your planner every day, pencil it in on your calendar, take an accountability course or even tell your favorite device to set a reminder to help you remember. Regardless of how you choose to do it, accountability is a super important (and simple) step to start writing more and writing better. Happy writing!
Rachel is a travel writer based in Arizona. In addition to writing and publishing several guidebooks, she's written for Wander AZ, Narcity Media, and CNET. Working as both a copyeditor and writer, she specializes in road trip content and manuscript editing.